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MFB-GeoConsulting GmbH

MFB-GeoConsulting (MFB-Geo) is specializing in “Solutions in Geographic Imaging” for optical, lidar and radar Earth observation.

The company is based in a countryside village in the neighborhood of Berne, Switzerland. As a young enterprise – founded in 1999 – MFB-Geo covers a wide range of national and international activities and services. Depending on the customer’s needs, MFB-Geo offers project- and customer-adapted solutions in geographic imaging including the design and implementation of operational workflows.
The integration of image and auxiliary geo data with geographic information and database management systems is one of the strength of MFB-Geo. Special attention is given to interfaces for data transfer between different system components as well as on the development of user interfaces. In addition, the extraction of 3-D information from stereoscopic imagery with photogrammetric precision (DEMs, buildings, etc.) and the 3-D visualization via internet are part of the technological know-how.
MFB-Geo and its highly specialized team have an extended experience in applied remote sensing and Earth observation. To strengthen its presence on the EU market, MFB-Geo founded in 2006 – in cooperation with its German partner Geosystems (Germering) – a daughter company in France (Geosystems France), based in Montigny-le-Bretonneux near Paris.
Remote Sensing and Earth Observation
Based on its long-term research work, the MFB-Geo team is familiar with spectral sensor characteristics related to reflection/emission signatures and their spatial and temporal variability, resp., of the Earth’s surface. Specialists in agriculture, forestry, hydrology/snow/ice and planning/mapping can merge the EO-specific know-how with daily practical and operational needs of its customers. As a licensed reseller of most Earth observation data (Ikonos, QuickBird, Spot, IRS, Kompsat, Formosat, ERS, Radarsat, etc.), MFB-Geo can advise its clients in getting the most appropriate data set and the according solution.
Thus MFB-Geo can support its customers in a variety of EO applications as:
• Land-use/land-cover mapping: for irrigation planning and monitoring as well as input into hydrological models
• Change detection in agriculture and forestry
• Hydrology: snow and ice cover monitoring, snowmelt runoff forecasting, flood forecasting and monitoring, hydro-power generation and irrigation
• Rapid mapping for natural disasters
• Infrastructure planning: telecommunications, mining, reservoirs
• Urban planning
MFB-Geo’s focus is also on the most recent development in 3-D visualizations using 3-D GIS and web technologies. Based on stereoscopic air- or space-borne optical, lidar or radar sensor data and imagery, digital surface and elevation models (DSM, DEM) are derived using photogrammetric analyses tools. Thus, 3-D change detection, e.g., in urban planning and in mining, can be carried out.
MFB-Geo offers such technologies to the tourism, mobility and planning sectors. These tools enable the customers – after draping image data on DEMs – to populate the 3-D landscape model with a variety of data:
• 3-D objects derived from stereoscopic imagery, e.g., buildings
• complex textured city models
• points of interest
• landmarks
• hyperlinks related to specific objects
• videos and sound related to selected objects
• weather web cams
• animated 3-D objects in the 3-D landscape (cars, railways, planes, etc.)
• vector data (roads, hiking trails, public transport, etc.)
All this information is put on a website and the web users visiting such a site can actively move through the 3-D landscape and collect the needed information.
Tools for Analyzing Remote Sensing and Earth Observation Data
For providing a customer with the most adequate solution for its project, MFB-Geo either offers to analyze geo data or to set up (design and implement) entire operational workflows. The design of workflows means to integrate the additionally needed workflow into an existing one, and to identify and realize the necessary system links and interfaces. All project-specific hardware and software is evaluated and implemented including satellite receiving stations, image processing and GIS systems as well as project-specific models (e.g. hydrological forecasting models).
In this context – as a licensed reseller for the entire suite of Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging (LGGI) software tools – MFB-Geo provides its customers with the most recent software solutions in image processing (ERDAS Imagine), photogrammetry (Leica Photogrammetric Suite) and 3-D visualization (Leica Virtual Explorer). In addition, a full range of the most recent 3-D stereo-graphics cards, emitters, shutter glasses and 3-D monitors are implemented.
Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging software tools include:
ERDAS Imagine (add-ons: subpixel classifier, radar mapping suite, stereo analyst, feature analyst, lidar analyst, auto sync, vector, actor)
• Leica Photogrammertic Suite (LPS) including Imagine, LPS core, LPS stereo, ATE, TE, Mosaic Pro, Orima, Pro600)
• Leica Virtual Explorer (LVE) including LVE architect, LVE server, LVE client, LVE pro client, LVE custom client
As a solution provider, training and education is a fundamental task of MFB-Geo. A full range of courses is provided: software-specific training and software support; project-related training in remote sensing / Earth observation and its applications; integration of remote sensing with GIS and other geo data; feeding models with EO data or derivative data. Furthermore, training courses and lectures are held at colleges and universities.
Project Management, Realization and Consulting
MFB-Geo offers its services to national and international customers. The attached list gives an overview on the most important projects realized by MFB-Geo.
One of the fascinating projects is the “Flood Forecasting and Monitoring Project” at the Changjiang (Yangtze) river in China, a joint Sino-Swiss cooperation project with the Changjiang Water Recourses Commission (CWRC) as a partner. The goal of this project is to improve operational flood forecasting procedures for the Three-Gorges Reservoir at the Changjiang river. Therefore, the computer infrastructure including hard- and software is implemented, selected geo data sets are made available, and local specialists are trained. In detail, this means:
• Implementation of a satellite receiving station for digital NOAA-AVHRR data. These data cover the basic needs for geo data (vegetation and land-use, snow and cloud cover, flood monitoring, etc.). The spatial resolution of 1 km2 is sufficient with regards to the size of the basin and the local needs as well as the hydrological model applied. Furthermore, these data can be received free of charge (which covers the request for sustainability);
• Setup of a processing chain for geo data based on digital image processing and GIS systems including a server-based computer infrastructure;
• Delivery of selected data sets as: a) digital 1 km elevation model for China, b) ASTER satellite data for the Three-Gorges neighborhood (50,000 km2) including an ASTER-derived DEM; Landsat-TM data for the entire Three-Gorges basin; QuickBird scene for the Three-Gorges reservoir;
• Evaluation and implementation of a distributed, conceptual hydrological model for the “Daning” as a test basin and an expansion of the model to the Three-Gorges basin; this task is carried out by the technical uncivesity of Zurich (ETHZ);
• Training of local specialists based on several approaches: a) basic training in image processing and GIS at a local university, b) intensive follow-up training in Europe at ITC, c) project-specific training in Switzerland: processing of geo data, flood monitoring and forecasting, model-specific training in forecasting, d) Swiss specialists training of local participants in China.
Figure 1: QuickBird scene on the Three-Gorges Dan at the Yangtze River, China (source: Eurimage/MFB-Geo, 2004)
A project representing a completely different scale and space is related to the application of geo data for telecommunication network planning in Switzerland: based on all accessible geo data including satellite data, MFB-Geo derived a 3-D clutter (morphological or land-cover) map for entire Switzerland. This clutter map serves as an input to a radiation propagation model for calculating the reception quality of radio communication.
The basic request was to generate a clutter map with a grid size of 5m x 5m and showing all objects with a heights larger than 2m. This means an improved spatial resolution by a factor of at least 2 to 5 compared to conventional models. The following data were applied:
• Satellite data and aerial photos
• Digital elevation models
• Digital surface models based on lidar data
• Pixel maps 1:25,000
• Vector maps 1:25,000
• Geo-statistical data (100m x 100m)
Figure 2: Telecommunication network planning. 2a) satellite mosaic, antenna locations and visibility; 2b) 2D-clutter map; 2c) 3D-clutter map indicating object heights classes (source: MFB-Geo, 2005)
MFB-Geo developed semi-automatic procedures for extracting land-cover information from image, vector and statistical data as well as for the determination of object heights. Based on this high-resolution clutter map, a significant improvement of the predicted radiation compared to the measure one was achieved.
Location-based information distribution and collection in a 3-D virtual world, visualizations and fly-throughs via the internet becomes more and more important in a broad field of applications (planning and construction, tourism, etc.). In the project presented here, MFB-Geo realized a visualization for a cable-car project. Based on a digital elevation model and image data (air- and space-borne), vector information and 3-D objects were integrated in this virtual scene. The scene was then populated with points of interest, hyper links, sounds, videos and many other information related to the objects in the scene (pdf files) showing the touristic context of the project including hotels, restaurants, farms, hiking trails, weather web cams, etc.
In the last months and years, MFB-Geo has continuously invested in the most recent technologies in image processing (hardware and software) for processing extremely large data sets. Thus, the MFB-Geo team is capable to offering its services to a broad spectrum of customers.
Figure 3: Tourism; 3a) Tourist attractions and Points of Interest; 3b) cable car planning (source: MFB-Geo, 2006)
Reference Projects
- Infrastructure for Flood Monitoring of the Yangtze River, China: Satellite Reception, Image Processing, GIS and Hydrological Models, Swiss Development Cooperation / Emergency Aid and Reconstruction (2003-2007)
- ESA / EO Envelope Program, Market Development: EOMD Mining (2003 – 2006)
- Geo Data and 3-D Technologies for Telecomm Network Planning Switzerland (2000 – 2006)
- Establishment of Operational Snowmelt Runoff Forecasting in Tajikistan, Federal Office of Foreign Economic Affairs (2001 – 2004)
- Regional Center of Hydrology in Central Asia: Establishment of an Information and Communication System for Operational Flow Forecasting, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) (2000-2004)
- Improvement of the Infrastructure at the Hydrometeorological Surveys of Central Asia, World Bank Program 2.1, Federal Office of Foreign Economic Affairs (1997 – 2002)
- 3-D Visualization for Tourism in the European Alps (2003)
- Near-real time 3-D Visualization at the World Orienteering Championship in Switzerland (2003)
- Monitoring of Sugar Can Plantations, Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt (2002 – 2003)
- Palm Tree Monitoring, El Oued/Gardaia, Algeria (2001 – 2002)
- Snowmelt Runoff Simulations in the Himalayas, ESA/DUP-Project SPIHRAL (1998 – 1999)
- Hydrology of Alpine and Northern Latitude Basins, EU Project HYDALP (1996 – 1999)
- Information System for Messen (Solothurn/Switzerland), Community information system and master plan (1996 – 1999)
- Member of the European Assoc. of Remote Sensing Companies (EARSC)
- Member of the European Assoc. of Remote Sensing Laboratories (Earsel)
- Founding member of the Society of Swiss Earth Observation Service Providers (SED)
- Member of the Swiss Soc. on Photogrammetry, Image Analysis and Remote Sensing (SGPBF);Member of the board of SGPBF (1991 – 1997)
- Swiss Federal delegate to the European Space Agency (ESA/DOSTAG), (1993 – 1998)
- Advisor for the Int. Committee on Remote Sensing (ICRS) of the Int. Assoc. Hydrological Sciences (IAHS)
- Assoc. Prof. at the Dept. of Geography, University of Berne (since 1988) ad lecturer at various colleges and universities
MFB-GeoConsulting GmbH
Eichholzstrasse 17 & 23
CH- 3254
Messen, Switzerland
Phone: +41 (31) 765-5063,
Fax: +41 (31) 765-6091